Review: Chill Factor by Sandra Brown

Title: Chill Factor

Author: Sandra Brown (I would normally link to the author’s website but it’s one of those ones which plays music as soon as you land on the page which is my number 1 internet annoyance)

Narrator: Stephen Lang

Publisher: Clipper Audio [2007]

ISBN: 978 1 40740 863 7

Length: 13 hours 30 minutes

Setting: North Carolina, USA, present-day

Genre: Romantic thriller?

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My rating: 1/5

One-liner: You’d have to go a long way to meet a nastier collection of characters.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Lilly Martin and Dutch Burton argue while cleaning out the mountain cabin they shared when they were married. Dutch leaves Lilly to make her way down the treacherous mountain road on her own just as a severe snow storm is starting and when she finally does leave she hits a hiker and crashes her car. She and the hiker, Ben Tierney, make their way back to the cabin to wait out the storm. What Lilly doesn’t know is that Ben hadn’t been on a normal hike but was coming from the graves of some women who had gone missing in and around the town of Cleary, North Carolina over the previous two years. The question is has Lilly just become trapped in a cabin with a serial killer?

The answer is I didn’t much care.

This was mainly due to the fact I couldn’t find a single likeable character in the whole, long book. Dutch, the town’s newly appointed Police Chief, and his best friend Wes Hamer, the high school football coach and a town councillor, are crude, misogynist, bullies without one redeeming quality between them. Dutch is such a charming fellow that he is more concerned about the possibility of his ex-wife having sex with another man than he is about the idea she could soon be the victim of a serial killer. Wes’ parenting skills include forcing his son to take steroids and breaking up his relationship with his girlfriend in the most despicable way a father could choose. His wife embraces her status as a victim of his verbal abuse and womanising. There’s also a creepy town pharmacist who dispenses cruel gossip and blackmail along with his prescriptions and his insipid sister who has a covert lover sneaking into her bedroom at night. The external law enforcement duo that arrive about half way through the book undertake a few bits of random guesswork as their contribution to unfolding events and then sit around being enigmatic. Our heroes, Lilly Martin and Ben Tierney, spend far too much time thinking about sex for two people who are supposedly moments away from imminent death most of the time and their competition to see who can endure the most pain and injury to gather fire wood is excruciatingly dull.

I also found the plot dragging like a wet weekend with no books to read. The numerous sex scenes (including the “are-we/they-going-to-have-sex?” scenes and the “ooh-we-just-had-sex” scenes) didn’t help move things along for me either. The police procedural elements of the book were few and far between (I was far more worried about the presumably murdered women than anyone in the book seemed to be) and there simply wasn’t a heck of a lot else happening (snow fell, people had sex). What little action occurred was all fairly predictable and long before the ending I had given up caring which of the repugnant individuals I’d met would turn out to be the killer.

To top it all off there were too many things I just didn’t buy in the story. Revealing most of them would qualify as spoilers but I can ponder publicly whether a policeman who’d pulled a gun on a 9-year old child while drunk on duty would ever be given another job in law enforcement. Surely even in America this could never happen. And I can also suggest that from the moment Lilly first told him she suspected he was the killer, Ben Tierney’s behaviour was utterly and ridiculously incomprehensible. I know this is fiction and there must be plot devices but there has to be more art to them than the kind of eye-roll inducing nonsense that peppered this tale.

If it were just the endless sex scenes and impossibly rugged heroes I would recommend the book to the many readers who like that kind of thing that just isn’t to my taste. But I can’t think of anyone who’d want to spend any time at all with the parade of truly repulsive characters in this book.

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6 Responses to Review: Chill Factor by Sandra Brown

  1. Maxine says:

    Definitely one to avoid! Though I did enjoy your review. I wonder if she is a high-selling author? The plot does sound dreadful, it is even more difficult dealing with unrealistic plots when there is no remotely likeable character.

    Music is your no 1 Internet annoyance? It is my no 3, after pop-up ads you can’t get down before you get to the “site”, and flashing adverts that give you a migraine (which you can’t “pop-down” as they are usually embedded in the site so you just have to go away hastily).

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  2. Bernadette – Thanks for the review; I am definitely not going to look for this one! The plot really does sound terrible, and I agree that if the characters don’t even have any redeeming qualities, there’s nothing to hold onto.

    I agree with you about music on internet sites. I also really dislike ads that have sound – how thoroughly annoying! The ads that flash all over the page you’re trying to access drive me crazy, too.

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  5. kathy durkin says:

    Oh, agree, although I don’t know this book. I know this author churns out books like rabbits spawn; they’re mass market boring, not-worth-the-few dollars’ books. I would not read one, and stay clear. Sorry for the bluntness, but that’s how I see it.
    And I agree about music in web ads, pop-ups, flashing ads, which also give me migraines.

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  6. Yes Kathy I agree, one to ignore. I listen to quite a few audio books (it’s the only incentive I have for exercising) and they are hideously expensive to buy so I try things from the library and the selection is pretty woeful – such as this one. I should just have stopped listening really but I could feel a good rant building up which is its own reward 🙂

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